Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): A Systematic Review of Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging Findings in 199 Patients

J Thorac Imaging. 2021 Mar 1;36(2):73-83. doi: 10.1097/RTI.0000000000000574.


Objective: Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMR) with its new quantitative mapping techniques has proved to be an essential diagnostic tool for detecting myocardial injury associated with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection. This systematic review sought to assess the important imaging features on CMR in patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

Materials and methods: We performed a systematic literature review within the PubMed, Embase, Google Scholar, and WHO databases for articles describing the CMR findings in COVID-19 patients.

Results: A total of 34 studies comprising 199 patients were included in the final qualitative synthesis. Of the CMRs 21% were normal. Myocarditis (40.2%) was the most prevalent diagnosis. T1 (109/150; 73%) and T2 (91/144; 63%) mapping abnormalities, edema on T2/STIR (46/90; 51%), and late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) (85/199; 43%) were the most common imaging findings. Perfusion deficits (18/21; 85%) and extracellular volume mapping abnormalities (21/40; 52%), pericardial effusion (43/175; 24%), and pericardial LGE (22/100; 22%) were also seen. LGE was most commonly seen in the subepicardial location (81%) and in the basal-mid part of the left ventricle in inferior segments. In most of the patients, ventricular functions were normal. Kawasaki-like involvement with myocardial edema without necrosis/LGE (4/6; 67%) was seen in children.

Conclusion: CMR is useful in assessing the prevalence, mechanism, and extent of myocardial injury in COVID-19 patients. Myocarditis is the most common imaging diagnosis, with the common imaging findings being mapping abnormalities and myocardial edema on T2, followed by LGE. As cardiovascular involvement is associated with poor prognosis, its detection warrants prompt attention and appropriate treatment.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • COVID-19 / diagnostic imaging*
  • Heart / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Diseases / complications*
  • Heart Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • SARS-CoV-2